FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Colorado State needed a win to gain a high seed in the upcoming Mountain West Conference tournament. And the Rams had to do it with point guard Dorian Green watching much of the game from the sideline.
“It is satisfying to get the high seed by winning, and you saw we did it without Dorian,” center Colton Iverson said after the Rams beat Nevada 77-66 on Saturday night to clinch the No. 2 seed. “Dorian is the team, and we weren’t used to playing without him.”
Colorado State lost Green midway through the first half. Green, the team’s second-leading scorer who had played in a school-record 127 games in his career, suffered an injury to his right ankle.
“Without Dorian, we are a different team,” Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said. “Losing him is like losing your quarterback in football.”
Iverson had 21 points and nine rebounds, Wes Eikmeier added 20 points, and Pierce Hornung had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Colorado State (24-7, 11-5 Mountain West), which set a school record for wins in a regular season.
“I thought we played our best basketball,” Eustachy said. “Dorian put a wrench into tonight because we had to adjust the lineup, but we still played at the level we should.”
PHOTO GALLERY: CSU 77, Nevada 66
The Rams draw No. 7 seed Fresno State as their first opponent on Wednesday.
Deonte Burton had 27 points for Nevada (12-18, 3-13), losers of seven straight. Malik Story had 14 for the Wolf Pack, who suffered their sixth consecutive road loss.
“I thought we let it get away from us a little bit in the first half,” said Nevada coach David Carter. “I wouldn’t say we were soft, but a little bit timid, and then we fought in the second half.”
Nevada, the No. 9 seed, will face eighth-seeded Wyoming in the conference tournament’s play-in game.
Nevada tightened its defense in the first 6 minutes of the second half, allowing only three field goals, all dunks. The Wolf Pack was able to close the gap to 46-32 after two short-range shots by Jordan Burris.
Iverson muscled in a three-point play and Eikmeier sank a 3-pointer to get Colorado’s State’s lead back to 57-37 with 10:01 remaining. Burton scored seven points during a 16-8 run that got Nevada within 61-53 with 4:05 left.
Nevada closed the gap to 63-56 with Burton’s baseline jumper with 1:56 to play, but the Wolf Pack never got closer. Colorado State made 14 straight free throws, eight by Eikmeier, the rest of the way.
Iverson had 11 points and Hornung 10 as the Rams went to work on the interior of Nevada’s defense in the first half. Colorado had a 23-10 edge in the paint and led 39-21 at halftime.
Greg Smith’s dunk put the Rams up 25-11, seconds before Green limped off the floor with 11:25 left in the half. Green watched the rest of the period with an ice pack on his ankle.
“There is no broken bone. It’s just a sprain,” said Green. “I expect to play on Wednesday.”
Burton, who had 11 in the first half, had a dunk to get the Wolf Pack as close as 28-16 before halftime.
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